You’re not supposed to get antsy in paradise, but that was me – at least for a short time – today.
Yesterday, we arranged to go to a remote restaurant that is located on a tiny island just across the lagoon from Mo’orea. When I made the reservation, it clearly stated that we had to take a boat to get to the restaurant, and even after doing multiple internet searches last night when we had wi-fi, I couldn’t find anything about water taxis or other “navettes” (what they call a small water taxi here). So, Les and I decided to go oldskool and early and head in the general direction of the restaurant and ask a kindly stranger who might know.
About an hour before our reservation, we found someone working in their yard, and Les asked the guy (in French) if he knew anything about “Coco Beach.” Thankfully, he did. He spoke relatively fast, but Les caught most of what he was saying – something about two kilometers down the road, orange house, turn into a drive with a big sign that read Coco Beach, etc. We thanked the man and immediately started driving down the road, checking every so often to ensure we didn’t go more than two kilometers on the car’s speedometer. We drove all the way around Cook’s Bay. When we got to two kilometers, it was clear that nothing we saw even resembled what the man had said, so we stopped again, this time to talk with a guard at one of the hotels. This guy was the opposite. He was not in the mood to speak slow French to Les, so he pointed us back in the direction we had come and kept saying the same thing repeatedly (probably a Tahitian word) – which neither Les nor I could understand.
It was at this point that I started getting nervous. Why? I don’t know, but I hate making reservations and not keeping them. I mean, you’re late to paradise. This is a conundrum. I really have to work on finding my island time.
Neither of us had cell service, so there was little we could do. It’s hard to go back in time to using old-fashioned, non-GPS ways of getting around. Nowadays, I’m used to putting in an address and the voice telling me what to do. Couple this dynamic with being forced to ask people for directions in a foreign language with words from yet another language, and we were stuck. So, we started driving back from where we had come, looking for any clue. We even stopped at a marina for a third attempt to ask, but no one was around. Feeling completely out of luck, we decided to give up and return to our place. I was frustrated but realized there was nothing more that we could do. With sad faces, we started making our way back.
That was the turning point. As we approached the entrance to our rental, there it was – the sign for Coco Beach and the orange house. How had we missed it? It was practically across the street from where we were staying, under our noses the whole time.
It turns out that the first man had likely said, “point two kilometers,” not “two kilometers.” All puns intended: Les didn’t get the “point.” We had driven much too far when it was right there all along.
With this problem solved, we made it in excellent time. We jumped out of the car and into a motorized outrigger-style boat (the kind you see in old South Sea movies with the long wooden balance to one side of the wooden canoe … but motorized!), and within a second, we were riding a boat through the lagoon on our way to lunch. Good thing we wore sandals and flip-flops because we had to jump in the water (up to our knees) to get out of the boat when we arrived.
The restaurant was an idyllic place. We were greeted with smiles and menus. Picnic tables were sitting halfway in the blue waters of the lagoon. Children were playing in the water while their parents were drinking and eating. A beautiful woman went topless while the few Americans in the crowd blushed and pulled their children close.
The food was (again) terrific. We started with a green papaya salad. We drank Tamarind lemonade. Les had a skewer of barbequed tuna that could be dipped in a savory vanilla sauce. I had curried shrimp – with heads looking up at me from the curry. We even had espresso and creme brulee for dessert.
When it was finally time to go back, we waded through the water, jumped on a fisherman-style boat, and prepared for the ride back. I had another brief moment of anxiety as I watched parents let their toddlers crawl around, no one holding them, with nothing to save them but floaties, as the boat jumped up and down, skipping the waves. Thankfully, no small children drowned due to neglect on that journey, so my concern was for naught. All returned to the main island unscathed.
The point? Never fret about paradise.